Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Start with a good cause

This is a tradition for The GATE that means as much to us as any other custom of the holidays: before we get into this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I want to share some of my favorite giving ideas for charities, and ways that everyone can support a good cause before they go shopping.

The holidays are about giving, after all, and I can’t think of a better way to give than to start with the causes and people who need your support.

Whether you give to any of these suggested charities, I would also recommend that everyone also take the time and donate money or food to your local food bank, offer warm clothing to shelters, or provide a new toy for a child through a charity like Toy Mountain.

Follow The GATE’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guides at We’ll have a new gift guide every week until Christmas.

Looking across the world, one of the biggest problems is access to clean, drinkable water. was co-founded by actor Matt Damon, and he’s been a hugely vocal supporter of the charity that works to bring water to those in need, but the celebrity power is nothing next to their vital cause. Here’s the official word from the organization’s website:

“Without water, life would not exist. It is a prerequisite for all human and economic development.”

“Yet today, 780 million people – about one in nine – lack access to clean water. More than twice that many, 2.5 billion people, don’t have access to a toilet.”

Donate to online at, where you can give once, or choose to make it a monthly gift. You can find other ways that you can help the cause on their website at, which even includes sending out tweets to help spread the word.

TOMS Shoes


For anyone looking to give a gift and give back, TOMS shoes and TOMS eyewear follows the “one for one” concept and gives back a pair of shoes or eyeglasses to those in need for every product purchased.

Available online at, and in retailers across Canada, TOMS has recently expanded to help some of the 285 million people in the world who are blind or visually impaired. When someone buys a pair of glasses or frames, TOMS gives back with prescription glasses, or medical treatment, to those who could not get it otherwise. TOMS suggests that of the millions with vision problems worldwide, 90% of those in developing countries could be helped.

TOMS products are also affordably priced, starting as low as around $30 for some shoes.

Lush Charity Pot

Lush Charity Pot

The Lush Charity Pot is a simple concept that goes a long way. You buy a pot of environmentally-friendly hand and body lotion, and Lush gives 100% of the purchase price to humanitarian, environmental and animal rights causes locally and around the world.

Lush has donated close to $6 million to date to over 600 grassroots charities in 35 countries, and locally that includes Girls Rock Camp Toronto, among others.

Charity Pots can be purchased online, or in any Lush store, and you can see the charities they support on their website. and TOMS images courtesy their respective companies. Lush Charity Pot photo by W. Andrew Powell, 2014.

W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.